St Albans mum and daughter’s life-changing experiences in round-world race

Sophie Crocker during her Clipper Around the World race

Sophie Crocker during her Clipper Around the World race - Credit: Archant

A mother-and-daughter duo from St Albans have spoken of the dramatic and tragic start to their round the world yacht race as they touched down in Cape Town.

Sophie Crocker, 18, was aboard the IchorCoal boat when, just a week into the race, her fellow sailor Andrew Ashman, 49, died after he was struck by a sail in 30mph winds.

She said: “It was absolutely horrendous. I was below deck asleep at the time, but found out when I woke up. It was horrible being on the boat knowing that had happened.”

Sophie said that the crew decided to head to shore as quickly as possible and regroup.

She said: “It was really traumatic and shouldn’t have happened. I did consider getting off - I wasn’t sure if I could sail anymore knowing that this had happened.

“But once we had settled, we decided to get back on the boat and finish the race and it was absolutely the best thing to do.”

Since the tragedy of the first week, Sophie says the experience of the race had been “life-changing”.

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She said: “We have seen dolphins and whales and orcas - we could’ve touched them.”

Linda, 48, is racing in legs two and seven while 18-year-old Sophie is racing in legs one, two, three, seven and eight for the South African team IchorCoal.

Mum Linda’s race almost did not start after “serious rig damage” on the Qingdao boat meant that she had to change teams at the last moment.

Linda said: “I didn’t know any of the crew or the skipper, which was a bit difficult at first but they’re great.”

Not to be outdone by her daughter’s sightings of dolphins and orcas, Linda was lucky enough to see a great white shark swim next to her boat.

She said: “It just cruised past the boat. It was massive, just quietly going along the side of the boat. It was probably five metres long.”

Linda added that she had seen one before, “but only in a tank”.

Sophie is due to begin leg three - from Cape Town to Albany in Australia in the next few weeks - while Linda will be back on the water for leg seven, which is the USA coast to coast route from Seattle, through the Panama Canal and up to New York.

Linda said: “Before I’m next on the water I’m looking forward to seeing some family and doing Christmas.”